We all know that social media is a free and effective networking and advertising tool. With proper use a person can develop a fan base or a customer base or even some powerful friends. There are a growing number of members of congress who are using social media as part of their campaign and to establish another link to their constituents. But, are they doing it right?
In order to best utilize the tools in the social media tool belt a person should be selective of the services that he uses. Not all avenues of media are suited to all messages. An important rule of using social media is that it should be interactive. The internet levels the playing field between all men, well, all men with internet access. This is where John the jeweler can have a conversation with his elected officials without the campaign trail running through his yard. This can only be the case, however, if the official is making the most of the tools available. Making social media social is the key to its use.
All businesses and professional ventures where there is contact with the pubic in any way should be involved in this fast growing media movement. There should be a balance between messages, videos and status updates that relate directly to the business or work and those that indirectly relate. These messages are the ones that are of the most importance. An amazing opportunity is available here and it is not being seized by the majority of professionals using social media. By making half to even three quarters or more of one’s social media efforts focus on creating and joining in conversations about interesting topics a person or business can create trust among members of the social network. This will, in turn, drive traffic to the professional portion of the social media tool kit.
One professional arena where contact with the public is essential is politics. There has been some buzz about members of congress using Twitter at inappropriate times such as during session. I found a couple of websites that serve as link logs to congress people and other elected officials’ Twitter profile. There are also Twitter accounts for several national departments and agencies. The first of which is called SourceWatch.org; it is a Wikipedia like resource for internet based information regarding politics, politicians and government. The next is called Twitter.PBWorks.com; it is another source for links but it focuses strictly on the Twitter accounts of all departments, senators, congressmen and other government offices. The final and most telling website is TweetCongress.org. This website breaks down congressional tweeters in several different ways from most followers to most interactive.
What I found was that an astoundingly large portion of these accounts were displaying a recurring and negative theme. They were simply mouthpieces for their respective campaign or office. The information is largely flowing out and there is little and, often no, reciprocation of the conversation. Social media would be an excellent way for elected officials to interact with the voters if the official would only respond to messages and issues. What they possibly see as shenanigans and tomfoolery is really the root of social media’s benefit. Without the interaction and exchange then the message could have a detrimental effect on the politician.